County Seals Land Deals

WINNSBORO – County Council during their July 28 meeting gave final reading to an ordinance authorizing the purchase of 1.365 acres of property in Ridgeway for the relocation of the Ridgeway Fire Department and EMS station. The property, located at 350 Highway 21 S. and owned by Judy Davis, will set the County back $65,000.

“We can find something cheaper than that,” District 7 resident David Brandenburg said during the public hearing for the ordinance.

Brandenburg also said the Southeastern fire station was only about 5.5 miles away from the proposed site and questioned the need for a new station so close.

But Milton Pope, Interim County Administrator, said the County had, along with Tony Hill, Fire Marshal, studied the site and determined it was the best choice in order for the most residents to maintain their fire insurance rates.

“We explored using County property that was close by this particular location,” Pope said, “however, by using that County property it would have thrown a number of people out of the 5-mile radius and therefore increasing their ISO rate.”

An existing building standing on the site will be used for storage, Pope said, with a new fire station to be erected in the near future. The original ordinance listed the property at 1.12 acres, but Monday night Pope said the purchase comprises two lots totaling 1.365 acres.

Rufus Belton Park

Council deferred third and final reading of an ordinance authorizing the purchase of 5.93 acres in Ridgeway known as Rufus Belton Park. The County is prepared to shell out $150,000 to Clayton Belton for the property that includes a fire and EMS station, as well as recreational facilities. Pope said there were no issues with the contract, but that Belton had requested additional time to review the deal before closing. Council will take the matter up again at its next meeting on Aug. 25.

Center Creek Road

Council gave the final OK to sell off 405 acres of property off Center Creek Road to Douglas L. Gamburg for $1,215,000. According to tax records, the County purchased the land in 2002 from SP Forests, LLC for $617,625 and Pope said the County had once explored the possibilities of developing the land for a retirement community.

“That did not pan out,” Pope said. “I know firsthand from speaking to the folks who were involved with this, a retirement community in that particular area would be very challenging to have a successful one unless there was a considerable amount of public investment in order to do that.”

Prior to the vote, Councilwoman Mary Lynn Kinley (District 6) moved that $25,000 from the proceeds of the sale be set aside for the purchase of additional property in the Center Creek area to be used for recreation purposes. The remainder of the proceeds, Kinley said, should be designated for economic development purposes and deposited in the County’s economic development fund.